Archive for January, 2020

Carillon Tower Planned as a Victory Memorial

In 1920, a tower of bells to honor America’s WWI victory — one bell provided by each U.S. state — was planned for Washington, D.C. The structure was never built.

Further to enhance the proposed carillon with a peculiar memorial significance, bills have been introduced in Congress to grant the use of 200,000 pounds of brass shell cases, or other brass or copper salvaged from the battlefields of France, to be used in the making of the bells. War metals from each of the allies will also be sought for the bells.

Although several of these bell towers — called “carillons” — were built to honor WWI globally, including several in the U.S., none were built in the Washington, D.C. area.

The nation’s most prominent WWI carillon today is probablythe 240-foot structure in Richmond, Virginia. Although not a carillon because it contains no bells, the 217-foot Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri is also a prominent memorial to the war.

The primary carillon in the Washington, D.C. area today is the Netherlands Carillon to honor WWII, erected in 1954 just outside Arlington National Cemetery.

Construction on the long-awaited WWI memorial in the nation’s capital only began last month: December 2019.

 

Carillon Tower Planned as a Victory Memorial: Music of Bells, One Provided by Each State and Territory, Would Sound Over Washington as Daily Reminders of America’s Part in the World War (PDF)

Published: Sunday, February 1, 1920

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Written by Jesse

January 28th, 2020 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Art,Military / War

France’s New President

When Paul Deschanel was elected president of France in January 1920, this article predicted great things. Instead, his behavior proved so erratic that he resigned after seven months and entered a mental institution.

Now if Paul Deschanel is to tread carefully in the footsteps of his excellent predecessors of the Third Republic, he has received the best possible schooling during his long career as President of the Chamber. He is promoted from presiding officer of a legislature to presiding officer of a nation. Aside from that and still with due attention paid to the traditions of the Presidency, as far as political affairs are concerned, there are great possibilities for Paul Deschanel.

Actually, the opposite occurred. Deschanel’s behavior became increasingly unhinged, culminating in falling out the window of a moving train and subsequently wandering around outside aimlessly in his pajamas. He resigned the presidency in September 1920 and entered a sanatorium.

Yet upon his release he was elected to France’s Senate, where he served for the rest of his life — apparently without incident, as far as I can tell.

Deschanel’s prior political position, President of the Chamber of Deputies, is equivalent to the American position Speaker of the House. Fortunately, America has had the opposite track record as France: only one Speaker of the House has ever become president, James K. Polk, and historians rank him in the top third of all presidents.

France’s New President: Paul Deschanel’s Shadowy Office Better Matched to His Personality Than to the Rugged Figure of Clemenceau (PDF)

Published: Sunday, January 25, 1920

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Written by Jesse

January 22nd, 2020 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Politics

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Unhappiness

In the early months of Prohibition, a common phrase swept the land.

“Of course, that was before the first of July,” one heard everywhere. Men winked at you in the street and whispered that “was before the first of July.” Children in the schools are taught ancient and modern American history now. Our ancient history was pre-July. Our modern history was post-July. Our laughter subsided into a whisper. We used to speak of Uncle Sam. Now we speak in awesome tones of his successor, Geoffrey Bootleg.

One man interviewed in this 1920 article postulated that with alcohol banned, freedom at large would soon follow:

“Do you know that when the barroom goes, democracy goes with it? Under the Caesars and Cromwell there were no bars. The bar parlor, the wine room, the cantina, the barroom flourish in direct ratio to the quantity and quality of the freedom that exists in a country. All Bastiles are undermined by the music of clinking glasses in public places. All Bastiles rise also to the pump of hidden stills.

“The American barroom abolished caste. The proletariat, the bourgeoisie, and the patrician got together over the bar rail. All men were created free and equal before a white apron. In the barroom race, color, or present condition of servitude melted into universal goodfellowship. Liquor was the eternal democrat. Laughter and drink leveled all humanity before the big mirror. There was, in the good old barroom, a continual interlocking of classes.”

That premise is certainly debatable. If bars were really the great equalizer in society, there wouldn’t have been such a large number of bars back then with signs in the windows reading ‘No Coloreds Allowed.’ And Prohibition was repealed in 1933, right at the moment that — at least under the economic libertarianism definition — unprecedented government intervention caused a substantial decrease in Americans’ freedom.

 

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Unhappiness: Now That Our Bronze Goddess Enlightens the World With Wood Alcohol, the Inalienable Right to Decline a Drink Is Alienated (PDF)

Published: January 18, 1920

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Written by Jesse

January 16th, 2020 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Life

Democratic Candidates: Hoover, Without a Political Past, With Palmer and McAdoo in Forefront of Discussion

10 months before the 1920 presidential election, there were three leading Democratic candidates. None would become that year’s nominee, but one would later be elected president… as a Republican.

The three leading contenders were Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, former Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo, and former Federal Food Administrator Herbert Hoover.

Prior to the 22nd Amendment’s ratification in 1951, limiting the president to two terms, then-second term Democratic President Woodrow Wilson hoped to serve a third term. But party bosses were skeptical about nominating him following his debilitating stroke in October 1919, which left him immobile.

Ohio Governor James M. Cox ended up winning the Democratic nomination, on the party convention’s 44th ballot.

Hoover was seeking the Democratic nomination because of his lead role helping rebuild Europe after World War I under a Democratic president, although that position was relatively nonpartisan. Two months after this article, in March 1920, Hoover switched his allegiance to the Republicans and sought that party’s nomination instead. The strategy failed, with Hoover failing to even break the top 10 candidates at the Republican convention.

In early 1920, there were also three leading Republican candidates. One of them, Warren Harding, would win the nomination — and the presidency. Sunday Magazine recently covered the New York Times‘ similar article about the top three Republican contenders:

Republican Candidates: Wood, Harding and Lowden Avowed Possibilities in the Presidential Campaign

That certainly wasn’t the end for Hoover, but the beginning. He would serve as Harding’s Secretary of Commerce for all eight years, then won the presidency himself in 1928.

 

Democratic Candidates: Hoover, Without a Political Past, With Palmer and McAdoo in Forefront of Discussion (PDF)

Published: Sunday, January 18, 1920

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Written by Jesse

January 15th, 2020 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Politics

Madame Ouija, Bolshevik of the Spirit World

The huge fad in 1920: ouija boards. Americans went crazy trying to communicate with the deceased and the great beyond.

This January 1920 article hyperbolized and satirized the trend:

Telephones are rapidly falling into the discard; men, women and children ring up Hyperspace and talk with their ancestors and their pre-natal souls. Books are being written with the aid of “controls”; the stock market has abandoned the ticker for the ouija pointer; the weather forecaster has tossed his maps and wind measures into the river and gets his predictions from the spirits.

Why did the board surge in sales then? Likely because of the era’s tumult, wrote Linda Rodriguez McRobbie for Smithsonian Magazine:

It’s quite logical then the board would find its greatest popularity in uncertain times, when people hold fast to belief and look for answers from just about anywhere, especially cheap, DIY oracles. The 1910s and ’20s, with the devastations of World War I and the manic years of the Jazz Age and prohibition, witnessed a surge in Ouija popularity.

In May 1920, no less a chronicler of the American way than Norman Rockwell painted a couple with a ouija board for a Saturday Evening Post cover:

 

Madame Ouija, Bolshevik of the Spirit World: Sinister Suggestion by a Worshipper of the Psychic Goddess That There’s a Slight Impediment in Her Veracity (PDF)

Published: Sunday, January 11, 1920

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Written by Jesse

January 8th, 2020 at 1:14 pm

Posted in Life

Paraguay, Land of the Tea With a “Kick”

This 1920 article predicted Paraguay’s beverage yerba mate “may become a habit some day in the United States.” It was not to be.

The article also noted the country’s 10:1 female-male ratio. Today, it’s completely even.

A celebrated and valuable product of the little inland South American Republican of Paraguay is “yerba maté,” made from the leaf of a very tall, bulky tree. The leaves are cut from the branches, placed on brushwood and roasted slowly in holes sunk in the ground and lined with skins.

The tea is imbibed through a “bombilla,” or tube, which is placed in the “maté,” or gourd, containing the infusion. An alcoholic “kick” is not claimed for yerba maté, but that it is refreshing to a degree — that it will certainly buck one up — is attested by the fact that a large proportion of the people of Central South America are irrevocably addicted to it. Its popularity extends to all classes.

A century later, it had yet to catch on in the U.S.

The women outnumber the men ten to one, which really indicates a considerable gain for the male sex, because fifty years ago the score was said to be twenty-five to one in favor of the women.

Paraguay’s gender disparity has completely evened out by now, with the country’s male:female ratio at a virtually-identical 1.01 to 1, according to the CIA’s World Factbook. (If anything, that means men actually slightly outnumber women.)

Paraguay, Land of the Tea With a “Kick”: Yerba Mate May Yet Become a Favorite Dry Beverage Here–Inland South American Republic, With Ten Women to Each Man, Seeks Commercial Advancement (PDF)

Published: January 4, 1920

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Written by Jesse

January 2nd, 2020 at 3:15 pm

Posted in Food,Life,Travel